He played 14 years in the major leagues, hit 325 home runs, drove
in more than 1,000 runs, was a two-time All-Star, won both a Gold Glove and
Silver Slugger award and was a World Series MVP. But after a sub-par second
half in 2009, he found himself out of baseball last year and, with no offers
for 2011, it looks like his career is over.
This is the curious case of Jermaine Dye, who was such an
important part of the White Sox for five seasons, including the World Champions
in 2005 when he was named the Most Valuable Player in the Fall Classic. And his
performance the following year was certainly one of the finest single seasons
in the club’s history when he pounded out 44 homers along with 120 RBIs, a .315
batting average and a 1.006 OPS.
The truth of the matter is that Dye could have played last year,
but he decided the offers weren’t worth it. It has been reported that there was
some interest in him this offseason, but nothing materialized. Now, the
slugger’s career may have come to an end.
“I would still like to play, but I think my choices have
passed and teams have gone with other people,” Dye recently told
FoxSports.com. “I will continue to stay in shape and hopefully someone
will call. If nothing gets done by the end of the spring, I may call it a
This is obviously not the way any major leaguer would like to
end his baseball life, especially a player with the resume of Dye. In part, he
is responsible for his own fate. He decided not to take the offers prior to the
2010 season and it is apparent that the year off was a huge negative as teams
considered him for ’11. But give him credit for sticking to his guns.
Apart from the fact that everybody associated with the ’05 Sox
will have a special place in my Hall of Honor, Dye was special. He was a quiet
leader, who spoke with his performance on the field. You hardly heard him talk,
but his actions were a positive example for his teammates. Frankly, the world
of sports needs more like him.
So, if this is indeed the end of the big league career of
Jermaine Dye, it’s baseball’s loss. He won’t go down as one of the all-time
greats, won’t enjoy a ceremony in Cooperstown, but he had a significant impact
just being himself–as an outstanding ballplayer, quiet leader and quality
And, personally, I will never forget his eighth inning single up
the middle in Game 4 of the ’05 Series against the Astros that scored Willie
to give the Sox a 1-0 lead and, ultimately, their first world title in 88
Here’s a sobering thought.
When White Sox spring training begins in February, Mark Buehrle may very well be the lone survivor from the 2005 World
It’s certainly premature to
carve this scenario in stone, but with Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and
Freddy Garcia free agents and Bobby Jenks arbitration eligible, the popular lefthander from St.
Charles, Mo. could stand alone.
If you think about it, it’s
appropriate. Some may say Konerko would be the ideal “last man standing.” But
Paulie, as beloved as he is on the South Side with one more year in a Sox
uniform than Buehrle’s 11, lacks one thing–he’s not a home-grown White Sox.
While some Sox fans might be surprised because Paulie is so identified with the silver and black, Konerko grew up in the Dodger organization and played briefly for the Reds before coming to Chicago. Buehrle, on the other hand, was a 38th round pick for the Pale Hose in 1998 and has been with the organization ever since.
So, if Konerko, Pierzynski,
Jenks and Garcia go elsewhere in the next few months, only Buehrle will
represent the greatest year in Sox history on the active roster–and will do it
with a pretty impressive resume. Here are some of his career highlights,
already worthy of consideration for a likeness on the left field wall at the
Game against the Rays
against the Rangers
wins in a Sox uniform, an impressive 38 games over .500
Major-league record 45 consecutive batters retired
All-Star, winning pitcher for AL in 2005
ALDS victory, an ALCS win and a World Series save in 2005
consecutive seasons of 200-plus innings pitched, leading the league twice–also led league twice in games started
Gold Gloves, including this past season
Sox record (8) for Opening Day starts
the game’s best pickoff move
the Sox career leaders in wins, starts, innings pitched, winning percentage,
quality starts (1st) and strikeouts
And the above accomplishments
don’t factor in his leadership
abilities, ultra-competitiveness, team-first attitude, good humor and
Notes of Note: Rumors run rampant this time of year.
One is that the Sox are willing to listen to offers for Gordon Beckham (really?)…Another is that Jermaine Dye, after sitting out the entire 2010 season, wants to
play next season. Reports are that the Rockies, Phillies and Rays are
interested…Yet another is that Sox are exploring the possibility of signing
free agent closer Rafael Soriano,
who was so strong last season for the Rays. Another sign that Jenks may be a
goner…Finally, congratulations to Buehrle for his winning a 2010 Gold Glove and
Ramirez for his first Silver Slugger
award. Truth is, the Missle should have won a Gold Glove as well.
With the White Sox blanking the A’s 2-0 yesterday in their last spring home game, I can’t help but think we’re going to see a lot of similar games this year. With one of the best starting staffs in baseball and potentially an outstanding pen, it’s reasonable to expect that the Sox will keep the opposition from lighting up the scoreboard more often than not.
Offensively, the Sox have lost the power of Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye. The hope is that the “Ozzieball” approach will score as many runs and folks like Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin, Alex Rios and Andruw Jones can provide adequate power numbers. That said, I still think lower scoring games will be the rule rather than the exception. And, to me, that’s a good thing.
Back to yesterday, it was neat and clean. Mark Buehrle (5 innings), Tony Pena (1), Randy Williams (1) and Bobby Jenks (2) combined for the shutout and Konerko and Quentin both went 2 for 4 with an RBI. Quentin hit his fifth homer of the spring.
The South Siders close out spring training this week. They make the short trip to Goodyear today to face the Indians, have split squad games against the Mariners in Peoria and their AAA affiliate in Charlotte on Thursday and journey to Atlanta to face the Braves on Friday night and Saturday. Then it’s onward to Chicago for Opening Day Monday against Cleveland.
Opening Day: Five Days and Counting…
After a week at Camelback Ranch, it’s back to reality. Here are my spring training thoughts from A to Z:
* A — A big plus for me was to see both Andruw Jones and Alex Rios off to great starts. Jones has hit two home runs, eight RBI and is hitting .385 with a .467 on base percentage. Rios has been nursing an injury, but is hitting .304 with a pair of homers, six RBI and a .346 OBP.
* B — The Natural, Gordon Beckham (pictured below), doesn’t look like he’s going to suffer from the sophomore jinx. So far in the spring, he’s hitting .333 with five doubles and a homer and is getting on base 43 percent of the time. He’s also been making every play at second base.
* C — is for the catching situation. A.J. Pierzynski is hitting at a .345 clip and shows no signs of slowing down. Ramon Castro is a capable backup. There was never any question that Tyler Flowers would begin the season at Charlotte, but it is a bit troubling he’s off to such a slow start.
* D — One of the highlights of Sox spring training has been the play of former Florida Marlin, outfielder Alejandro De Aza. Despite being destined to begin the year with Charlotte, he is hitting .333 with seven RBI. He’s an exciting player who very well might be up in Chicago at some time during the season.
* E — is for errors, which I’m happy to say will hopefully occur much less in 2010. The Sox will be a more versatile and fundamentally sound team so there will likely be fewer miscues and brain cramps.
* F — is for the Twittergate “flap,” which looked for a while like it would be a major
distraction. Luckily Ozzie stopped it before it really impacted the team.
* G — Our old friend Freddy Garcia (pictured below) takes the hill this season as the fifth starter. He seems a lot older because he’s been around so long, but Freddy is just shy of 34 and should give us the necessary push at the No. 5 spot in an outstanding rotation.
* H — If Freddy doesn’t come through the Sox are well-protected with Dan Hudson, who pitched at every level of baseball last season and did a creditable job with the Sox in September. He looks like the real deal.
* I — I predict that the Sox will win the AL Central with the Twins, Tigers, Royals and Indians finishing in that order.
* J — Bobby Jenks has been struggling with his calf, but he says he’ll be ready to go Opening Day. The Sox have some depth in the bullpen, but losing Jenks would definitely be a big blow.
* K — We need Paul Konerko to have a big year, especially with the departure of Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye. It could be Paulie’s last season in Chicago, but let’s hope it’s one of his best.
* L — Scott Linebrink has proven himself to be a capable reliever, but you wouldn’t know it from his performance a year ago. He’s been up and down this spring, but he needs to rebound to max out our pen.
* M — As THE lefty in the bullpen, Matt Thornton (pictured below) is indispensible. While I was in Arizona he was perfect. The other half of the main DH platoon with Jones, Mark Kotsay, is on fire this spring, hitting .433 with a .514 on base percentage and a .500 slugging mark.
* N — Will Jayson Nix, Brent Lillibridge or a perhaps a late spring pickup win the last remaining spot among position players? Since it’s listed under “N,” my choice is naturally Nix.
* O — Brought to the Sox to back up and mentor Alexei Ramirez and Beckham, Omar Vizquel, who will be 43 in April, still looks perfectly capable of contributing.
* P — Jake Peavy, entering his first Sox season, J.J. Putz and Juan Pierre (pictured below) all have key roles. From what I witnessed in Glendale, Peavy’s in mid-season form, Putz was up and down and it’s obvious what positives Pierre is going to give us from the leadoff spot. Another “P” is Tony Pena, a member of the relief corps who has compiled a 1.59 ERA in five appearances in Arizona.
* Q — Carlos Quentin looks ready to go, even though his spring stats aren’t gaudy. Health is the key here and CQ looks like he’s ready for the long haul.
* R — With the help of Vizquel, Ramirez will be better defensively and that may make him more relaxed at the plate.
* S — A converted infielder and former No. 1 draft choice of the Diamondbacks, Sergio Santos has been a revelation and a real candidate for the final spot in the bullpen. He’s been very impressive and brings a lot of heat. The fact he’s out of options may force the Sox to bring him North.
* T — If I have one major concern, it’s Mark Teahen. He’s been awful so far in spring training, presumably putting a lot pressure on himself. I don’t even want to think about what happens if he flops.
* U — U stands for the Sox being underrated. Haven’t seen any of the so-called experts throwing compliments our way, let alone picking the Sox to win the AL Central. Hopefully I’m right and they’re wrong.
* V — I’ve thrown around the word versatile when writing and talking about the Sox. It was certainly apparent to me that they’ll be more running and bunting on this team–with players that can actually execute.
* W — Randy Williams, the journeyman reliever who has pretty much locked up the role as the second lefty in the pen, has pitched eight scoreless innings this spring.
* X — Saw a few ex-Sox in Florida, including Orlando Cabrera, Nick Masset (Reds), Josh Fields, Chris Getz and Scott Podsednik (Royals) plus former farmhand Aaron Cunningham (Padres). I saw that Brian Anderson hit for the cyle for KC and went 5 for 5 in a game during that time, but I wasn’t there to witness it.
* Y — Why is Jordan Danks listed here? Because I had to find some place to give him his due, that’s Y. He’s big, strong, fast and will be a major element to the Sox fortunes for many years to come. We’ll likely see him in Chicago with his big bro some time this season.
* Z — Z stands for the many zeroes our starting staff will throw this season. The strength of the club is definitely our rotation with Peavy (pictured below, top), Garcia, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and last but not least Mr. Perfect, Mark Buehrle (pictured below, bottom).
My final weekly offseason musings on the White Sox and more. In just two days, four hours and 56 minutes, pitchers and catchers officially report and the 2010 season will be underway.
My Random Thoughts Heading into Spring Training:
* He’s coming, he’s not coming, he’s coming, he’s not coming, he’s…That’s basically what we’ve been through this week with Johnny Damon. I’m through guessing what will happen. We’ll just have to wait and see and deal with the decision when it comes down. And it very well could be determined before you read this. Who knows?
* As I look ahead to the 2010 Sox, I can’t help but think that the two keys to whether or not we make the playoffs will be Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios. While the personality of the team will change, putting a priority on pitching, speed, versatility and defense, there still needs to be some significant power now that Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome are no longer on the South Side. Quentin and Rios must rebound from last year whether or not the other factors listed above prove successful.
* Speaking of Jermaine, it’s painful to see he’s still on the outside, looking for a decent
deal. Despite his horrible second half in 2009, you have to think he can help someone. Here’s hoping the news of him signing is imminent. Dye, like the other 2005 guys, holds a special place for us. Even more special for Jermaine, considering he was the World Series MVP.
* I’m looking forward to seeing Jordan Danks and Jared Mitchell in spring training. It doesn’t seem like either outfielder will make the 25-man roster, but Danks is right on the cusp and actually could make the jump at some point this year. Mitchell is a couple of years away, but inviting him to major league camp is a smart idea–he’ll get a jump start on getting acclimated to major league life.
* I love this. Jerry Reinsdorf, Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen will be featured in The Club, an original reality series on the MLB Network The show will follow the Sox braintrust to provide “unprecedented behind-the-scenes access” to a major league front office. The Club premieres Sunday, July 4 at 8:00pm, ET.
* By the way, has Damon signed yet?
My weekly offseason musings about the White Sox and more…
* Considering how much they contributed to the White Sox, I’m disappointed that Jermaine Dye and Joe Crede are still without homes. And I’m hoping the rumors aren’t true that Jermaine will wind up in Cleveland.
*Two B’s–budget and Boras (agent Scott)–have seemingly been major obstacles to the White Sox seriously considering the signing of Johnny Damon. And until today the Braves and Tigers appeared to be the teams most likely to acquire the two-time World Champion. However, multiple sources are now saying that the Sox are serious players in the Damon derby. Boy, would he look good in our lineup.
* Did any of you Sox fans identify with the Saints and their long-suffering fans as they finally won it all? I did.
* Seems like the Twins’ acquisition of Orlando Hudson has convinced the so-called
experts that the Twinkies are the odds-on favorite in the AL Central. I think folks are forgetting that they’ll be playing in a normal ballpark this year. Big difference.
* I’ve been to and enjoyed eight Olympics including three Winter Games–Sarajevo,
Calgary and Salt Lake City. But I have to admit I won’t watch very much of the Games
from Vancouver. I guess I’ve lost my Olympic spirit.
* I finally saw the movie, Couples Retreat. Part of the film, which stars Vince Vaughn
and Jon Favreau among others, is set in Chicago. I’m happy to say that the Sox logo was more prominent than that of the North Siders. Unfortunately, it’s usually the other way around.
* I’m engrossed in the new biography about the great Willie Mays. It reminds me that I’m on record (granted, I was about 11 when I said it) as saying that former White Sox star Jim Landis (pictured below) was a better centerfielder than Mays. No, I’m not nuts. Just a big Sox fan.
* Just a reminder, as I write this pitchers and catchers are 10 days, three hours and three days away.
While Sox favorites Jermaine Dye and Joe Crede are still looking for new homes, a number of other former Pale Hosers are with new teams–for example, Jim Thome (Twins), Jose Contreras (Phillies), Scott Podsednik (Royals) and Jon Garland (Padres). The following is a list of the most recent ex-Sox to sign: one fairly significant, the others not so much.
* The well-traveled, but talented, shortstop Orlando Cabrera is now with the
Cincinnati Reds. For the record, this is the “fairly significant” signing.
* Timo Perez, a reserve outfielder on the 2005 World Champs, signed a minor league
deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
* Josh Fogg, a one-time closer candidate for the Sox, inked a minor league
pact with the New York Mets.
* Lefty hurler Jimmy Gobble, who had a cup of coffee with the Sox, is now with the
Colorado Rockies after agreeing to a minor league contract.
* Catcher Gustavo Molina, not related to Bengie, Jose and Yadier, signed a minor
league agreement with the Boston Red Sox.
* Pitcher Horacio Ramirez, who had a short stint with the South Siders, just signed
with the San Francisco Giants on a minor league deal.